Liam Plunkett vows not to become complacent in England's ODI team

It has taken the veteran seamer 12 years to begin to feel, after 52 ODI caps, he is established in the first-choice XI.

He will therefore line up against South Africa in Southampton again on Saturday in a team also set to contain Ben Stokes after England's match-winning all-rounder was pronounced fit following his injury scare on the eve of the second Royal London Series match.

Plunkett can remain heartened, meanwhile, after helping England ease into a 1-0 lead with a 72-run win on his home ground at Headingley on Wednesday.

He was a 20-year-old when he first played for his country. Yet only at 32, after 18 appearances in England's last 22 ODIs, is Plunkett indisputably in his country's best team - against South Africa, and for next month's Champions Trophy.

His agreement still comes with a caveat, that he keeps adapting sufficiently to stay ahead of the opposition - and compatriots.

"I've played long enough now where I've been in and out of the side, but I feel in the last year I've been one of the better bowlers and one of the most consistent," he said.

"It is nice to hear people consider you an established member of the team, and I feel I do deserve to be in the side."

Plunkett has endured years rather than mere spells out of the England reckoning, and at one point his professional career was in danger of ebbing away too.

"It is fickle," he added. "Sometimes it changes for the better of the team - they might bring in an extra spinner or a left-armer.

"There are people wanting to come in ... so you need to keep improving. If you stay still, people are going to come in and do well.

"Little niggles, if you get rested for a game, someone comes in and performs and you could lose your place."

Plunkett has reinvented himself from the young brave bowler who relied on out-and-out pace and bounce, but knows he must keep updating his armoury to prosper at the highest level.

"I'm a completely different cricketer," he added. " (But) You've got to always be thinking and changing, because people are watching you day in day out.

"South Africa will have been watching videos and saying 'this is what he does' - but you can keep developing and produce a slower ball they've never seen before.

"You've got to keep adapting. Some people might play slower balls better than others, so you won't bowl as many to them. You've got to change or people will work you out - and you'll go round the park."

To that end, he was trying out a few of his latest variations in the nets on Friday.

"After six hours in the car it was was nice to get the stiffness out," he said. "But the thing about our guys is you can't just rock up and turn your arm over - you'll get smacked out (of) the ground.

"As soon as one goes whistling past your ears, you crank it up and have an intense net."

The reward for his efforts so far is a career aggregate of 77 ODI wickets.

"I'd love to get to 100 ODI wickets," he added. "It is always nice to chip people off the list, people you looked up to when you were growing up."

England's challenge, meanwhile, is to win their next seven matches - a sequence they managed last summer - in order to both beat South Africa and then win their first global ODI tournament.

Plunkett believes they can do it.

"Absolutely," he said. " We are backing ourselves ... it would be absolutely amazing to win a big tournament, and in England I think we've got a massive chance with this squad."

It will be easier with Stokes fit again, of course. But if he has to miss a match, because of the knee trouble which made him a doubt here or any other reason, Plunkett is confident England have the strength in depth.

He added: "If Ben's not playing then you'd be disappointed because he can change a game with bat, ball or in the field - and it would hurt the team - but we've got players who can come in.

"We back whoever comes in. If it was Jonny (Bairstow) you'd back him to get a hundred; if it was Sam (Billings) the same; if a bowler came in you'd back them to take wickets."

  Ben Stokes will be fit for selection as England face South Africa in Southampton
Ben Stokes will be fit for selection as England face South Africa in Southampton